Riled residents continue struggle against animals at large

A hot topic that seems to be on many peoples' minds, and last nerve, and lawns is dogs and cats running at large.

A hot topic that seems to be on many peoples’ minds, and last nerve, and lawns is dogs and cats running at large, defecating where they please.

It seems to be a problem as old as time itself but no one is warming up to the idea of having to pick up feces from at-large animals on their property.

One Millet resident, Doug Young, is so fed up with waking to find dog feces and cat urine in his yard on his structures he is vowing to ensure the offending animals end up in the Wetaskiwin Animal Clinic shelter.

The Town of Millet bylaw states, “no animal shall run at large within the corporate limits of the town.”

“If an animal is at large, the owner shall be guilty of an offense and subject liable to a fine under this bylaw, exclusive to any other civil actions or penalties,” the bylaw continues.

Under Millet’s bylaw animals are not permitted to defecate on any property except the owners’, and if it does so it is up to the animal owner to remove the offending material.

The City of Wetaskiwin’s residents are also no strangers to the continued annoyances this issue presents.

The city’s website states community peace officers will investigate complaints made regarding cats or dogs at large.

Peace officer Trent Jager says the investigations made for dogs and cats differ.

If a complaint is made against a dog at large officers will look into the home and owner of the animal and look to locate it to get it off the city’s streets. “That’s kind of the extent of our investigation,” said Jager.

For cats, Jager encourages residents to borrow one of the city’s animal traps; free for two week time periods. Under the Animal Protection Act those who borrow the traps are responsible for the animal’s care and safety and the residents are liable.

 

Jager says food and water should be placed in the trap. “As long as the cat doesn’t come in with a broken leg or anything they won’t get into too much trouble.”

He says in the five years he has been with the city as a peace officer he has never seen any cats turn up injured by the traps.

He also feels the traps are a popular resource people are taking advantage of. “We’ve got about 15 and usually throughout the summer we only have one or two left in the office.”

Cats trapped are turned over to the Wetaskiwin Animal Clinic shelter to await pickup by their owners, who must pay a release fee. Jager says repeat offenders are fined above and beyond that.

“I would say 95 per cent are unregistered,” said Jager. After three days, if the animals are not picked up they are given to the shelter.

When it comes to animals at large the peace officers use a system to track problem zones. When there are zones presenting increased issues peace officers patrol the area in question more often, looking for the offender.

However Jager says there are no highlighted problem zones at the time.  “As for actual complaints to our office, there’s very few.”

“The people aren’t phoning our officers,” he added.

Wetaskiwin’s animal control bylaw states no animal is to be a nuisance, which includes causing damage to property and defecating on property other than that of the owner. The bylaw also disallows animals from running at large.

However, when it comes to tracking animals defecating on peoples’ lawns Jager feels the work presents its own challenges. “You have to catch them in the act.”

For the time being all pets are required to be leashed within city limits by Wetaskiwin but land has been set aside for a future off-leash dog park at 36th Street and 47th Avenue.

Pet owners are going to have to remain patient  until 2016 at the earliest and Jager feels cat owners still have not got a grasp of the mandatory leash culture.

The City of Leduc operates with similar at-large and nuisance animals but makes specific distinctions for guide dogs.